Have you seen John Carter? This was the 2012 sci-fi action Disney film directed by Andrew Stanton (of Pixar fame.) From what I’ve read, the movie is mostly based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1917 book A Princess of Mars. Having been written in the early 20th century, Burroughs imagined that Mars supported life, various races lived there, etc, etc. The film stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, and a few other actors and actresses that I’m not familiar with. It seems a little nonsensical to put out a big-budgeted movie about Mars where the source material is in sharp contrast to the scientific reality of the Martian environment. Still, I think the best method to suspend your disbelief is to think of this as an alternate dimension / reality, and the planet’s development took a different path.
The story seemed a little complicated to me, but revolved an American man from the 1860’s named John Carter who is accidentally transported to Mars, and gets thrown into the middle of a conflict between the people of two kingdoms (Helium & Zodanga), but there is another race called the Thern (the pale bald people in the trailer) who are secretly aiding the Zodanga baddies. In addition to these three groups, there are also the four-armed Tharks that you also see predominantly in the trailer. Carter ends up in the midst of the Tharks when he first arrives on Mars.
So that’s the setting of the film. Background on John Carter while on Earth, accidentally gets to Mars, inserted into conflict between the warring factions, oh and meets obligatory princess. Lynn Collins portrays Princess Dejah Thoris of Helium. She’s supposedly smart, an excellent fighter, and beautiful. I guess she’s an interesting character, but her educated background was a little forced when you see her about to do a demonstration of a device using “9th ray” technology. Um, yeah.
The character John Carter stands out on Mars where, supposedly due to the Martian gravity, his bone density and musculature allows him heightened strength and jumping ability. He’s also an amazing swordsman, and frankly very intelligent and enlightened for an 1860’s American soldier.
I gotta admit that there were many critical reviews (and some positive) going into watching this film. The audio and video is pretty good, and you can easily tell the production costs must have been staggering. Apart from the jumping (it didn’t look very realistic to me), Disney must have tens of millions of dollars on the production — be it the clothes, the CGI special effects, etc. It all looks very expensive.
Regarding the plot, I didn’t think it was very special. The film has its moments, but the story pacing dragged at times, and I just didn’t find the John Carter character to believable act this way. Maybe I’m hung up that he’s from the 19th century, but I don’t know if any person from that era would ever react and adjust to life well when presented by alien races.
I’m probably expecting too much from the film. The kids haven’t finished it yet, but they like it. Maybe it’s a film more geared to children. It’s definitely a rental for the kids.